Thursday, May 10, 2018

Now on FilmStruck: Shoot the Piano Player (1960)

Shoot the Piano Player (1960) - Directed by Francois Truffaut; Written by Francois Truffaut, Marcel Moussy; Starring Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger.

By Kenny Howell

After many months away, I have restarted my FilmStruck subscription and what better to dive back in than with a visit with Monsieur Truffaut.

The eight regular readers of this site will know that I am a former journalist that worked for three different newspapers, one of which is still in business. The writing was on the wall, so I left the industry about a year ago. I had to cut back on some expenses so my kids could have things like food and clothing. One of the things I gave up was FilmStruck, the excellent streaming service that is a mixture of Criterion and Turner Classic Movies. It is a must have for film fanatics, and is worth the $12 a month. You have a seemingly countless number of classics, some that used to be hard to find, at your fingertips.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Now on Hulu: Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie (2018)

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie (2018) - Written and directed by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

By Emily Haile

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie is a Hulu documentary about the evolution of Barbie and how Mattel revamped her image in 2016.

Barbie debuted in 1959 and earned Mattel $500 million within the first 10 years. But as American culture evolves, Barbie has to adapt to the changes in society. The documentary follows Kim Culmone, the head of Barbie design, and her attempt to keep up with the times while still making a profit.

After years of attempts and failed focus groups, Project Dawn is finally set into motion. The new Barbie line debuts three new body types along with the current style: curvy, tall and petite. The documentary shows what a big undertaking it is to completely rebrand the pop culture icon.

"I think we have to show that this is our commitment to the next generation of girls," Michelle Chidoni of Barbie public relations said. "That this isn't a stunt. That this is the new day of Barbie."

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Now on Amazon Prime: Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) - Written and Directed by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen; Starring Oscar Issac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Alex Karpovsky.

By Kenny Howell

There's a moment early on in Inside Llewyn Davis that is probably the first thing I think about when remembering the movie.

The cat has got out of the apartment where Llewyn is staying, and he calls the owners to let them know that he has the cat with him. He has to leave a message with a secretary, and he says "Llewyn has the cat". The secretary repeats back "Llewyn is the cat, got it".

It's such a Coen thing to do to hide the metaphor in a silly throwaway joke, one that could have been easily ascertained, but they just put it out there in the middle of something that is supposed to get a laugh.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Now on HBO: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Back to the Future Part II (1989) - Directed by Robert Zemeckis; Written by Bob Gale; Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Elisabeth Shue, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson.

By Kenny Howell

Back to the Future Part II had a lot of faith in the longevity of Max Headroom style animation and Ronald Reagan.

The sequel to the 1985 classic is probably the best of the trilogy, but it is kind of hard looking back on it now because it takes place in the future of 2015, which was obviously three years ago. It is kind of silly some of the things they thought were going to happen, but I guess if you are going to knock that then 2001: A Space Odyssey looks pretty dumb too (It's not).

The story was set up in the first film, but Director Robert Zemeckis lets loose in the sequel, taking Marty and Doc 30 years into the future and having a lot of fun with it. It also goes to some dark places when we learn that Biff is the most important businessman in Hill Valley and beyond. His rise to prominence has not had a great effect on the town.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Now on Amazon Prime: Wonder Boys (2000)

Wonder Boys (2000) - Directed by Curtis Hanson; Written by Steve Kloves; Starring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes, Robert Downey Jr., Frances McDormand, Rip Torn, Richard Thomas, Alan Tudyk.

By Kenny Howell

Wonder Boys came out when I was in my second year in college. After leaving film school as a lazy 18-year-old who wanted to stay up late and play Nintendo 64 instead of my school work, I went to community college to get my grades up, then on to a state university to chase my dream of being a famous writer.

I should have known that the cards were stacked against me because I was a terrible student, and, as I would find out later, I couldn't write a novel. I do not have the patience or talent, but it worked out because I ended up in the newspaper business, which, of course, now means I am unemployed and reviewing 18 year old movies on a website I created.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Now on Amazon Prime: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) - Directed by Stephen Herek; Written by Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon; Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin.

By Kenny Howell

I continue the trip back to my childhood, following up Back to the Future with another time travel 80s movie.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure isn't the cultural milestone or blockbuster hit that Back to the Future was, but it still has its place. And after watching it again, I can kind of see why. The humor is stupid because the characters are stupid. Bill and Ted are dim witted teenagers who just want to be a giant rock band, despite not knowing how to play their instruments. But they are so positive, so caring toward other people, that you can see why it's hard not to like them and this movie.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Now on Netflix: Wind River (2017)

Wind River (2017) - Written and Directed by Taylor Sheridan; Starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Jon Bernthal, Kelsey Asbille.

By Kenny Howell

What made Taylor Sheridan's To Hell or High Water work so well was how seamlessly he interwove a story about two brothers robbing banks with a social commentary about the current financial state of the common man in America.

His follow up Wind River tries to take that same approach, but only by dancing around the outside of it. There is a story about the treatment of Native Americans as a whole, but also the women. Little bits are brought up about this, but they seem out of place in this pretty good mystery about what happened to a young woman who is found barefoot, dead in the snow high up in the mountains of Wyoming.